The first professor whom students encounter in a discipline is likely to play a big role in whether they continue in it.
Introductory courses can open doors for students, helping them not only discover a love for a subject area that can blossom into their major but also feel more connected to their campus.
But on many campuses, teaching introductory courses typically falls to less-experienced instructors. Sometimes the task is assigned to instructors whose very connection to the college is tenuous. A growing body of evidence suggests that this tension could have negative consequences for students.
Two papers presented at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting in New York on Sunday support this idea.